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Internship Program Builds Sustainable Connections in Atlanta Region

Posted on: Oct 05, 2016

Sustainable Connections Interns (from left): Joy Harris, Maggie Kelley, Sid Kande Veera, Bennet Ritvo and Daiyon Kpou

Georgia Tech student Joy Harris applied for ARC’s new Sustainable Connections Internship Program (SCIP) this spring, because “I wanted to learn how I can incorporate sustainability into my current career and throughout my life….Everyone should play a part in developing sustainable communities,” said Ms. Harris.

The new sustainability internship program is an outgrowth of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) Green Communities Certification program, which has been encouraging local governments in the Atlanta region to go green since 2009.

Today, 13 cities and seven counties in the region have achieved Green Communities Certifications, from Bronze to Platinum levels, for implementing measures that have a sustainable impact in the region.

The popular program only has one drawback, according to program coordinator Crystal Jackson: “Most local governments want to do more to be environmentally responsible, but they don’t always have the resources they need to implement new sustainability initiatives.”

That’s how the SCIP came into being. ARC piloted the newly created internship program for the 2016-2017 academic year to connect university students that are pursuing environmental and sustainability studies with local governments in need of low-cost sustainability programming assistance.

The internship program, a win-win for students and local governments, promises to:

  • Engage students in meaningful work with cities and counties so that they can obtain hands-on experience and build relationships with local government and sustainability professionals.
  • Connect students working toward sustainability careers with a peer network where they can share experiences and insights.
  • Help cities and counties obtain assistance with sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise have the time or resources to complete on their own.

The program helps build peer connections, as well as professional ones, through connection events where students network, discuss readings and studies and hear from key regional sustainability leaders.

The pilot program rolled out this spring to five higher education institutions – Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Spelman College.

SCIP Internships will be open to all metro Atlanta area university students for the 2017-2018 academic year. Local governments in the 10-county ARC region will be invited to submit project proposals for the program next spring.

Meet the 2016-2017 SCIP Interns


Joy Harris is a MBA student at Georgia Tech. She is also a current faculty member and Director of the Engineering for Social Innovation Center.  She is working with the Cherokee County Office of Economic Development on an inventory of sustainability initiatives within the county and will be developing a sustainability strategic plan.





Bennet Ritvo is studying for a BS in Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. In addition to her engineering knowledge, Bennett brings marketing and finance skills to the job, with a degree from Emory in Business Administration and a first career in finance.  She is working with the City of Duluth on their Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development Plan.






Daiyon Kpou is a student in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, studying environmental science and human health. She is helping the City of East Point launch an Adopt-A-Stream Program and will be monitoring stream health and educating the next generation about the importance of clean water.





Maggie Kelley & Sid Kande Veera: Maggie is a BS/MS Public Policy student and Gates Millennium Scholar at Georgia Tech, and Sid is MBA student with experience in engineering design at Emory. Together they will assist the City of Brookhaven with navigating the Bike Friendly Community, Walk Friendly Community and Green Communities certification processes. They will also help with the implementation of the city’s newly announced Peachtree Creek Greenway.